By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University announced Jan. 11 it had named Gregory Dunaway as the new associate dean of academic affairs in its college of arts and sciences.
Formerly head of MSU’s sociology department, Dunaway was instrumental in creating what remains the state’s only criminology degree program. He succeeds David Breaux, who recently became the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s graduate school dean.
However, Breaux said Dunaway actually has experience as academic affairs associate dean which predates his own. Dunaway spent a year as interim associate dean before Breaux was hired, he said.
“He’s very qualified for the position,” Breaux said. “In terms of the direct process of filling the position, I did not play a role... (but) when it became known I was taking a job elsewhere, (Arts and Sciences Dean) Gary Myers and I had a discussion about a list of sort of potential individuals who could fill the position. Obviously, Greg’s name was at the top of that list ... because he had done the job already.”
Dunaway said he was excited and honored to hear the news. While his interim experience with the job was about four and a half years ago, he said he believes the experience will help him keep the college of arts and sciences moving forward.
“It’s given me a good understanding of the various tasks that need to be done in our office in the capacity of associate dean,” Dunaway said. “It gave me the experience to be familiar with a lot of the networks that are very crucial to our students and our college. It’s given me a good idea of how our college and its programs fit within the larger academic mission of our university, and it’s given me good experience in terms of knowing the different sorts of offices we interface with, including the provost’s office, the registrar’s office, the office of admissions — things like that.”
Dunaway’s new responsibilities include coordinating curriculum issues, student advising and awards, scholarships and all other aspects of undergraduate programs. Dunaway said his top priority is to learn as much as possible about individual departments.
“Our college is very diverse, and while I’ve been here for a very long time and I’m reasonably knowledgeable about certain departments, there are some departments that I’m not as well informed about,” Dunaway said. “It’s important that I know as much as possible about the undergraduate curriculum and their programmatic needs and their student needs. While some of those things are universal across departments, some departments have very specific issues they’re grappling with in terms of the size of majors, developing new programs — things like that.”
Dunaway said he wants to improve academic advising and other services for students. He also wants to help faculty build and enhance new programs the same way he built the criminology program.
“I very much enjoyed that, so the idea of building something is always exciting to me,” Dunaway said. “Advising is a huge issue for our college. Today, our office is very busy with students needing good advice and needing to be routed in the right direction so that they can get classes and so they can progress, so advising is an issue that is crucial for me right now in order to make sure that the students are getting the most out of their education that they can.”
Finally, Dunaway said he wants to build on Breaux’s successes.
“Dr. Breaux did a really good job, I felt, reorganizing the office and implementing some new programs in the office in terms of gathering data for our college so that we could make more informed decisions about resource allocation,” Dunaway said. “I think he’s done a really fantastic job setting that infrastructure up.”
Breaux said when he was associate dean he always enjoyed working with Dunaway. He said Dunaway built sociology into a vibrant undergraduate and Ph.D. program.
“He has a lot of experience across the range of student and curriculum issues,” Breaux said. “I think the future is bright for the college.”